Bailiffs and police have evicted protesters from the UK’s longest-running anti-fracking camp in Upton, Cheshire, months after high court ordered them to leave so that drilling could begin.
According to information from Cheshire police, nine protesters were arrested, and another two given a section 35 direction to leave, which bans them from returning for 48 hours. The police stated further:
Police officers will keep a visible presence at the location overnight and high court enforcement officers will remain on the site. Nobody was injured or taken to hospital during the eviction, and currently 20-30 people remain on Dutton Lane protesting.
The site in Upton has been leased by fracking company IGas Energy. The company has permission to begin exploratory drilling in the area until May.
Activists have been aiming to stop IGas staff from accessing the site until this permission expires.
The camp has been continuously occupied since April 2014, and fortified with tunnels, treehouses and a moat, since IGas was given a possession order in November last year.
Protesters locked themselves underground and high up on unstable structures in an effort to make the eviction as long and costly as possible.
Matt Bryan, a Labour councillor for Cheshire West, was one of the nine people arrested after he climbed on to a digger in an effort to delay the eviction because he believed activists were trapped underground.
It’s a miracle nobody was killed. As soon as the police advised me that the appropriate measures had been taken, I removed myself and climbed down from the loader, at which point they arrested me for obstructing a police officer.
Karen Harris, an Upton resident and member of Frack Free Dee, a collective of anti-fracking groups located around the River Dee catchment, said:
We surveyed our neighbours and over 85% do not want this industry here or anywhere else. There is no community consent for this work to take place and we’ll be doing everything we can to defend ourselves.
There is a school within 500 metres of the site and houses within 200 metres. We’re not stupid, we can look to America for 10 years’ worth of evidence as to what fracking means for communities. We won’t have our health and environment ruined just to make a small number of people a large amount of money.
Currently, no protesters are at the camp according to police which remain on site. However, activists told the Guardian on Thursday they would not be defeated despite the police presence.
Anna Davis, 32, said:
It was really quite sad when the camp finally came to an end, but we will not be defeated and we are going to keep up the pressure. A visible opposition will remain at either end of the cordon.